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Spinal Cord Injury Stem Cells | StemcellsHealthCare.com

By LizaAVILA

Spinal cord injury refers the injury to the soft tissues of the spinal cord which is protected by the vertebrae when they are broken or dislocated. The injuries can occur at any level of the spinal cord. The injured segment of the cord and the severity of the damage will determine which body functions are compromised or lost. There has been no cure for it currently. But the symptoms can be treated and some complications can be controlled.

Scientists and doctors turn to stem cells. Stem cells are a class of undifferentiated cells that can differentiate into specialized cell types. Stem cells can repair the damaged cells by the spinal cord injury and also produce some cells to replace the dead cells. A number of published papers and case studies support the feasibility of treating spinal cord injury with allogeneic human stem cells derived from umbilical cord and autologous bone marrow-derived stem cells.

In severe injury, axons are cut or damaged beyond repair, and neural cell membranes are broken. Blood vessels may rupture and cause bleeding into the spinal cords central tissue, or bleeding can occur outside the cord, causing pressure by the blood clot on the cord.

Within minutes, the spinal cord near the site of severe injury swells within the spinal canal. This may increase pressure on the cord and cut blood flow to spinal cord tissue. Blood pressure can drop, sometimes dramatically, as the body loses its ability to self-regulate. All these changes can cause a condition known as spinal shock that can last from several hours to several days.

Some people experienced spinal cord injury may have hemiplegia, loss of many feelings such as touch and hot, and dysfunctions of movement.

After stem cells are transplanted into the damaged segment of the spinal cord, the cells would repair the damaged cells and help them to recover. Also some cells will be produced by stem cells to help improve the damaged functions by spinal cord injury.

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Legislature could boost U stem cell research

By NEVAGiles23

The future of the University of Minnesotas regenerative medicine research program is looking brighter than ever.

State and federal leaders in the past have denied funding for the Universitys Office of Regenerative Medicine, which includes the Stem Cell Institute, because some had ethical disagreements with stem cell research.

But this legislative session, with a DFL majority and an overall shift in public opinion, researchers and legislators are confident funding will come through this year.

The current House bill sets aside $450,000 for the Office of Regenerative Medicine, while the Senate version outlines a $5 million increase each year from 2015-17. The bills texts dont specify how funds should be used and how they would be divided between the University and the Mayo Clinic, its research partner.

The Senates bill mandates that anadvisory task force comprised of members from the University, the Mayo Clinic and private industry, as well as two other regenerative medicine experts, recommend how to spend the state funding.

Dayton didnt include funds for the research in his original budget proposal this year, but Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, said there seems to be a general consensus among legislators to work together and decide on a funding amount.

I have not heard many naysayers, she said.

Changing perceptions

The state plays a major role in moving the institutes research forward.

These days, legislators are more open to it than they were in the past, said Dr. Andre Terzic, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine.

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Spinal Cord Injury,Stem Cell Therapy Spinal Cord Treatment …

By JoanneRUSSELL25

Overview Spinal Cord Injury - Stem Cell Treatment in India In 1995, actor Christopher Reeve fell off a horse and severely damaged his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. From then until his death in 2004, the silver screen Superman became the most famous face of spinal cord injury.

Most spinal cord injury causes permanent disability or loss of movement (paralysis) and sensation below the site of the injury. Paralysis that involves the majority of the body, including the arms and legs, is called quadriplegia or tetraplegia. When a spinal cord injury affects only the lower body, the condition is called paraplegia.

Christopher Reeve's celebrity and advocacy raised national interest, awareness and research funding for spinal cord injury. Many scientists are optimistic that important advances will occur to make the repair of injured spinal cords a reachable goal. In the meantime, treatments and rehabilitation allow many people with spinal cord injury to lead productive, independent lives.

A complete spinal cord injury is defined by total or near-total loss of motor function and sensation below the area of injury. However, even in a complete injury, the spinal cord is almost never completely cut in half. Doctors use the term "complete" to describe a large amount of damage to the spinal cord. It's a key distinction because many people with partial spinal cord injuries are able to experience significant recovery, while those with complete injuries are not.

Together, your spinal cord and your brain make up your central nervous system, which controls most of the functions of your body. Your spinal cord runs approximately 15 to 17 inches from the base of your brain to your waist and is composed of long nerve fibers that carry messages to and from your brain.

These nerve fibers feed into nerve roots that emerge between your vertebrae - the 33 bones that surround your spinal cord and make up your backbone. There, the nerve fibers organize into peripheral nerves that extend to the rest of your body.

Injury may be traumatic or nontraumatic

A traumatic spinal cord injury may stem from a sudden, traumatic blow to your spine that fractures, dislocates, crushes or compresses one or more of your vertebrae. It may also result from a gunshot or knife wound that penetrates and cuts your spinal cord. Additional damage usually occurs over days or weeks because of bleeding, swelling, inflammation and fluid accumulation in and around your spinal cord.

Nontraumatic spinal cord injury may be caused by arthritis, cancer, blood vessel problems or bleeding, inflammation or infections, or disk degeneration of the spine.

Damage to nerve fibers

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Stem Cell Therapy || Spinal Cord Injury Treatment || Stem …

By Dr. Matthew Watson

Spinal Cord Injury

Damage to the spinal cord usually results in impairments or loss of muscle movement, muscle control, sensation and body system control.

Presently, post-accident care for spinal cord injury patients focuses on extensive physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other rehabilitation therapies; teaching the injured person how to cope with their disability.

A number of published papers and case studies support the feasibility of treating spinal cord injury with allogeneic human umbilical cord tissue-derived stem cells and autologous bone marrow-derived stem cells.

Feasibility of combination allogeneic stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury: a case report co-authored by Stem Cell Institute Founder Dr. Neil Riordan references many of them. Published improvements include improved ASIA scores, improved bladder and/or bowel function, recovered sexual function, and increased muscle control.

The adult stem cells used to treat spinal cord injuries at the Stem Cell Institute come from two sources: the patients own bone marrow (autologous mesenchymal and CD34+) and human umbilical cord tissue(allogeneic mesenchymal).

A licensed anesthesiologist harvests bone marrow from both hips under light general anesthesia in a hospital operating room. This procedure takes about 1 1/2 2 hours. Before they are administered to the patient, these bone marrow-derived stem cells must pass testing for quality, bacterial contamination (aerobic and anaerobic) and endotoxin.

All donated umbilical cords are screened for viruses and bacteria to International Blood Bank Standards.

Our stem cell treatment protocol for spinal cord injury calls for a total of 16 injections over the course of 4 weeks.

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Stem Cell Treatment Spinal Cord Injury – ASCI – Asian Stem …

By Dr. Matthew Watson

Stem Cells and Spinal Cord Injury:

Spinal cord injuries are described at various levels of "incomplete", which can vary from having no effect on the patient to a "complete" injury which means a total loss of function.

Treatment of spinal cord injuries starts with restraining the spine and controlling inflammation to prevent further damage. The actual treatment can vary widely depending on the location and extent of the injury. In many cases, spinal cord injuries require substantial physical therapy and rehabilitation, especially if the patient's injury interferes with activities of daily life.

After a spinal cord injury, many of the nerve fibers at the injury site lose their insulating layer of myelin. As a result, the fibers are no longer able to properly transmit signals between the brain and the spinal cord contributing to paralysis. Unfortunately, the spinal cord lacks the ability to restore these lost myelin-forming cells after trauma.

Tissue engineering in the spinal cord involves the implantation of scaffold material to guide cell placement and foster cell development. These scaffolds can also be used to deliver stem cells at the site of injury and maximize their regenerative potential.

When the spinal cord is damagedeither accidentally (car accidents, falls) or as the result of a disease (multiple sclerosis, infections, tumors, severe forms of spinal bifida, etc.)it can result in the loss of sensation and mobility and even in complete paralysis.

Spinal Cord Injury and Stem Cell Treatment

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U-M Researchers Use Silly Putty Ingredient To Study Stem Cells

By raymumme

By Estel Grace Masangkay

Researchers from the University of Michigan have discovered how mechanical forces in the environment influence stem cell growth and differentiation. The scientists arrived at the findings using a key ingredient in Silly Putty for their experiments.

Using an ultrafine carpet made out of polydimethylsiloxane, a key ingredient in Silly Putty, the scientists were able to coax stem cells to morph into working spinal cord cells. The Silly Putty component was made into a specially engineered growth system with microscopic posts. By varying the post height, the researchers were able to adjust the stiffness of the surface where the cells are made to grow.

Jianping Fu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, said, This is extremely exciting. To realize promising clinical applications of human embryonic stem cells, we need a better culture system that can reliably produce more target cells that function well. Our approach is a big step in that direction, by using synthetic microengineered surfaces to control mechanical environmental signals.

Stem cells that were grown on tall, softer micropost carpets morphed into nerve cells faster and more often than those grown on stiffer surfaces. The colonies of spinal cord cells that grew on softer micropost carpets were also 10 times larger and four times more pure than those grown on rigid carpets or traditional plates.

The study is the first to directly link physical signals to human embryonic stem cells differentiation, in contrast to chemical signals. Professor Jianping Fu says the findings may lead to a more efficient way of guiding stem cells to differentiate and provide specialized therapies for diseases such Alzheimers, Huntingtons, Lou Gerhrigs disease, and others. Our work suggests that physical signals in the cell environment are important in neural patterning, a process where nerve cells become specialized for their specific functions based on their physical location in the body, said Professor Jianping.

The study from the University of Michigan was published online at Nature Materials this week.

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Silly Putty the Key to Stem Cell Therapies?

By Sykes24Tracey

Could a component of Silly Putty, the childhood classic from the 1950s that your grandkids probably play with today, help embryonic stem cells turn into working spinal cord cells? Yes, say researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann who published their study online at Nature Materials on April 13th 2014.

A release from the university reports that the team grew the cells on a soft, utrafine carpet made of a key ingredient in Silly Putty. The ingredient, called polydimethylsiloxane, is a type of silicone. This research is the first to directly link physical, as opposed to chemical, signals to human embryonic stem cell differentiation. Differentiation is the process of the source cells morphing into the body's more than 200 cell types that become muscle, bone, nerves and organs, for example.

Jianping Fu, U-M assistant professor of mechanical engineering, says the findings raise the possibility of a more efficient way to guide stem cells to differentiate and potentially provide therapies for diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), Huntington's or Alzheimer's.

In the specially engineered growth systemthe carpets Fu and his colleagues designedmicroscopic posts of the Silly Putty component serve as the threads. By varying the post height, the researchers can adjust the stiffness of the surface on which they grow cells. Shorter posts are more rigid ike an industrial carpet. Taller ones are softer and plusher.

The team found that stem cells they grew on the tall, softer micropost carpets turned into nerve cells much faster and more often than those they grew on the stiffer surfaces. After 23 days, the colonies of spinal cord cellsmotor neurons that control how muscles movethat grew on the softer micropost carpets were four times more pure and 10 times larger than those growing on either traditional plates or rigid carpets. The release quotes Fu as saying, "This is extremely exciting. To realize promising clinical applications of human embryonic stem cells, we need a better culture system that can reliably produce more target cells that function well. Our approach is a big step in that direction, by using synthetic microengineered surfaces to control mechanical environmental signals." Fu is collaborating with doctors at the U-M Medical School. Eva Feldman, the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology, studies amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. It paralyzes patients as it kills motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Researchers like Feldman believe stem cell therapiesboth from embryonic and adult varietiesmight help patients grow new nerve cells. She's using Fu's technique to try to make fresh neurons from patients' own cells. At this point, they're examining how and whether the process could work, and they hope to try it in humans in the future.

"Professor Fu and colleagues have developed an innovative method of generating high-yield and high-purity motor neurons from stem cells," Feldman said. "For ALS, discoveries like this provide tools for modeling disease in the laboratory and for developing cell-replacement therapies." Fu's findings go deeper than cell counts. The researchers verified that the new motor neurons they obtained on soft micropost carpets showed electrical behaviors comparable to those of neurons in the human body. They also identified a signaling pathway involved in regulating the mechanically sensitive behaviors. A signaling pathway is a route through which proteins ferry chemical messages from the cell's borders to deep inside it. The pathway they zeroed in on, called Hippo/YAP, is also involved in controlling organ size and both causing and preventing tumor growth. Fu says his findings could also provide insights into how embryonic stem cells differentiate in the body. "Our work suggests that physical signals in the cell environment are important in neural patterning, a process where nerve cells become specialized for their specific functions based on their physical location in the body," he said.

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How a Silly Putty ingredient could advance stem cell therapies

By Sykes24Tracey

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

13-Apr-2014

Contact: Nicole Casal Moore ncmoore@umich.edu 734-647-7087 University of Michigan

ANN ARBORThe sponginess of the environment where human embryonic stem cells are growing affects the type of specialized cells they eventually become, a University of Michigan study shows.

The researchers coaxed human embryonic stem cells to turn into working spinal cord cells more efficiently by growing the cells on a soft, utrafine carpet made of a key ingredient in Silly Putty. Their study is published online at Nature Materials on April 13.

This research is the first to directly link physical, as opposed to chemical, signals to human embryonic stem cell differentiation. Differentiation is the process of the source cells morphing into the body's more than 200 cell types that become muscle, bone, nerves and organs, for example.

Jianping Fu, U-M assistant professor of mechanical engineering, says the findings raise the possibility of a more efficient way to guide stem cells to differentiate and potentially provide therapies for diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), Huntington's or Alzheimer's.

In the specially engineered growth systemthe 'carpets' Fu and his colleagues designedmicroscopic posts of the Silly Putty component polydimethylsiloxane serve as the threads. By varying the post height, the researchers can adjust the stiffness of the surface they grow cells on. Shorter posts are more rigidlike an industrial carpet. Taller ones are softermore plush.

The team found that stem cells they grew on the tall, softer micropost carpets turned into nerve cells much faster and more often than those they grew on the stiffer surfaces. After 23 days, the colonies of spinal cord cellsmotor neurons that control how muscles movethat grew on the softer micropost carpets were four times more pure and 10 times larger than those growing on either traditional plates or rigid carpets.

"This is extremely exciting," Fu said. "To realize promising clinical applications of human embryonic stem cells, we need a better culture system that can reliably produce more target cells that function well. Our approach is a big step in that direction, by using synthetic microengineered surfaces to control mechanical environmental signals."

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Silly Putty Ingredient Could Help Stem Cells Become Motor Neurons

By NEVAGiles23

April 14, 2014

Image Caption: University of Michigan researchers have found that mechanical forces in the environment of human embryonic stem cells influences how they differentiate, or morph into the body's different cell types. To arrive at the findings, they cultured the stem cells on ultrafine carpets made of microscopic posts of a key ingredient in Silly Putty. Credit: Ye Tao, Rose Anderson, Yubing Sun, and Jianping Fu

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports Your Universe Online

An ingredient found in Silly Putty could help scientists more efficiently turn human embryonic stem cells into fully functional specialized cells, according to research published online Sunday in the journal Nature Materials.

In the study, researchers from the University of Michigan report how they were able to coax stem cells to turn into working spinal cord cells by growing them on a soft, extremely fine carpet in which the threads were created from polydimethylsiloxane, one component of the popular childrens toy.

According to the authors, the paper is the first to directly link physical signals to human embryonic stem cell differentiation, which is the process by which source cells morph into one of the bodys 200-plus other types of cells that go on to become muscles, bones, nerves or organs.

Furthermore, their research increases the possibility that scientists will be able to uncover a more efficient way to guide differentiation in stem cells, potentially resulting in new treatment options for Alzheimers disease, ALS, Huntingtons disease or similar conditions, assistant professor of mechanical engineering Jianping Fu and his colleagues explained in a statement.

This is extremely exciting, said Fu. To realize promising clinical applications of human embryonic stem cells, we need a better culture system that can reliably produce more target cells that function well. Our approach is a big step in that direction, by using synthetic microengineered surfaces to control mechanical environmental signals.

He and his University of Michigan colleagues designed a specially engineered growth system in which polydimethylsiloxane served as the threads, and they discovered that by varying the height of the posts, they were able to alter the stiffness of the surface upon which the cells were grown.

Shorter posts were more rigid, while the taller ones were softer. On the taller ones, the stem cells that were grown morphed into nerve cells more often and more quickly than they did on the shorter ones. After a period of three weeks and two days, colonies of spinal cord cells that grew on the softer micropost carpets were four times more pure and 10 times larger than those growing on rigid ones, the study authors noted.

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Weird Life

By raymumme

A key element of the popular children's toy Silly Putty could help scientists develop stem cell treatments for nerve and brain disorders such as motor neurone disease and Alzheimer's, a study suggests.

Researchers used the molecule that gives Silly Putty its unusual properties to grow working spinal cord cells on a soft, ultra-fine carpet.

They found that motor nerves grew faster and more often on the material than they did on a normal rigid surface.

The neurones also showed electrical activity comparable with that of motor nerves in the body.

The study is the first to show that physical, as well as chemical, signals directly affect the development of human embryonic stem cells.

Silly Putty, created by accident during Second World War research into potential rubber substitutes, bounces but also flows like a liquid and breaks when hit sharply.

A silicone polymer molecule called polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is mainly responsible for the odd properties that have made Silly Putty a hit with children around the world.

The new research involved coaxing embryonic stem cells to grow and develop on a soft "carpet" made from PDMS threads.

After 23 days, colonies of spinal cord motor neurones appeared that were four times purer and 10 times larger than those grown on traditional plates.

Lead scientist Dr Jianping Fu, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said: "This is extremely exciting. To realise promising clinical applications of human embryonic stem cells, we need a better culture system that can reliably produce more target cells that function well.

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Paralysed patients regain movement after spinal implant

By Dr. Matthew Watson

NEW YORK: Four men who had each been paralysed from the chest down for more than two years and been told their situation was hopeless regained the ability to voluntarily move their legs and feet though not to walk after an electrical device was implanted in their spines, researchers reportedyesterday.

The success, albeit in a small number of patients, offers hope that a fundamentally new treatment can help many of the 6 million paralyzed Americans, including the 1.3 million with spinal cord injuries. Even those whose cases are deemed so hopeless they are not offered further rehabilitation might benefit, scientists say.

The results also cast doubt on a key assumption about spinal cord injury: that treatment requires damaged neurons to regrow or be replaced with, for instance, stem cells. Both approaches have proved fiendishly difficult and, in the case of stem cells, controversial.

The big message here is that people with spinal cord injury of the type these men had no longer need to think they have a lifelong sentence of paralysis, Dr Roderic Pettigrew, director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of the National Institutes of Health, said in an interview. They can achieve some level of voluntary function, which he called a milestone in spinal cord injury research. His institute partly funded the study, which was published in the journal Brain.

The partial recovery achieved by hopeless patients suggests that physicians and rehabilitation therapists may be giving up on millions of paralyzed people. Thats because physical therapy can mimic some aspects of the electrical stimulation that the device provided, said Susan Harkema, a specialist in neurological rehab at the University of Louisvilles Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC), who led the new study.

One of the things this research shows is that there is more potential for spinal cord injury patients to recover even without this electrical stimulation, she said in an interview. Today, patients are not given rehab because they are not considered good investments. We should rethink what theyre offered, because rehabilitation can drive recovery for many more than are receiving it.

Baseball star

The research built on the case of a single paralyzed patient that Harkemas team reported in 2011. College baseball star Rob Summers had been injured in a hit-and-run accident in 2006, paralyzing him below the neck.

In late 2009, Summers received the epidural implant just below the damaged area. The 2.5-ounce (72-gram) device began emitting electrical current at varying frequencies and intensities, stimulating dense bundles of neurons in the spinal cord. Three days later he stood on his own. In 2010 he took his first tentative steps.

His partial recovery became a media sensation, but even the Louisville team thought that epidural stimulation could benefit only spinal cord patients who had some sensation in their paralyzed limbs, as Summers did. We assumed that the surviving sensory pathways were crucial for this recovery, Harkema said.

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Progress in electrical nerve treatment

By LizaAVILA

Scientists have reported progress in a technique to stimulate the lower spinal cord in paraplegics to help them recover lost nerve function.

Cautiously tested on a single patient three years ago, the technique has been trialled on three other young men who had been paraplegic for at least two years after road accidents, they said on Tuesday.

After the patients were given an implant to stimulate nerve bundles in the lower spine, they were able to voluntarily flex their knees and shift their hips, ankles and toes, the team reported in a published study.

The four were not able to walk but could bear some weight independently - a key phase towards this goal - and experienced a 'dramatic' improvement in wellbeing, they added.

Claudia Angeli of the University of Louisville's Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC) said two of the men had been diagnosed not only as paralysed in the legs, but also lacking lower-body sensation, with no chance of recovery.

'This is groundbreaking for the entire field and offers a new outlook that the spinal cord, even after a severe injury, has great potential for functional recovery,' Angeli said in a statement.

Paralysis comes from damage to the spinal cord down which the brain sends electrical signals along nerve fibres to instruct limb movement.

Decades of experimental effort have been devoted to reconnecting severed fibres through surgery or regrowing them through drugs or stem cells.

The new research takes a different route, exploring the idea that there are ways paralysed people can move without reconnecting the nerve link between the brain and lower extremities.

It delivers tiny electrical signals to networks in the lumbosacral spinal cord that are relatively autonomous - they can follow through the commands for weight-bearing and coordinated stepping without input from the brain.

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Scientists make progress in treating paralysis

By daniellenierenberg

'This is groundbreaking for the entire field and offers a new outlook that the spinal cord, even after a severe injury, has great potential for functional recovery'

PARIS, France Scientists on Tuesday, April 8 reported progress in a technique to stimulate the lower spinal cord in paraplegics to help them recover lost nerve function.

Cautiously tested on a single patient 3 years ago, the technique has been trialed on 3 other young men who had been paraplegic for at least two years after road accidents, they said.

After the patients were given an implant to stimulate nerve bundles in the lower spine, they were able to voluntarily flex their knees and shift their hips, ankles and toes, the team reported in a published study.

The 4 were not able to walk but could bear some weight independently -- a key phase towards this goal -- and experienced a "dramatic" improvement in wellbeing, they added.

Claudia Angeli of the University of Louisville's Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC) said two of the men had been diagnosed not only as paralysed in the legs, but also lacking lower-body sensation, with no chance of recovery.

"This is groundbreaking for the entire field and offers a new outlook that the spinal cord, even after a severe injury, has great potential for functional recovery," Angeli said in a press release.

Paralysis comes from damage to the spinal cord down which the brain sends electrical signals along nerve fibers to instruct limb movement.

Decades of experimental effort have been devoted to reconnecting severed fibers through surgery or regrowing them through drugs or stem cells.

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Paralysed men regain movement after spinal implant, study finds

By LizaAVILA

Kent Stephenson lies down during voluntary training while Katelyn Gurley (not seen) tracks his level of muscle activity and force at the Human Locomotion Research Center laboratory, Frazier Rehab Institute, as part of the University of Louisvilles Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Photograph: University of Louisville/Handout via Reuters

Four men who had each been paralysed from the chest down for more than two years and had been told their situation was hopeless regained the ability to voluntarily move their legs and feet - though not to walk - after an electrical device was implanted in their spines, researchers reported today.

The success, albeit in a small number of patients, offers hope that a fundamentally new treatment can help many of the millions of paralysed people.Even those whose cases are deemed so hopeless they are not offered further rehabilitation might benefit, scientists say.

The results also cast doubt on a key assumption about spinal cord injury: that treatment requires damaged neurons to regrow or be replaced with, for instance, stem cells. Both approaches have proved fiendishly difficult and, in the case of stem cells, controversial.

The big message here is that people with spinal cord injury of the type these men had no longer need to think they have a lifelong sentence of paralysis, Dr Roderic Pettigrew, director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of the National Institutes of Health, said in an interview.

They can achieve some level of voluntary function, which he called a milestone in spinal cord injury research. His institute partly funded the study, which was published in the journal Brain.

The partial recovery achieved by hopeless patients suggests that physicians and rehabilitation therapists may be giving up on millions of paralysed people. Thats because physical therapy can mimic some aspects of the electrical stimulation that the device provided, said Susan Harkema, a specialist in neurological rehab at the University of Louisvilles Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC), who led the new study.

One of the things this research shows is that there is more potential for spinal cord injury patients to recover even without this electrical stimulation, she said in an interview. Today, patients are not given rehab because they are not considered good investments. We should rethink what theyre offered, because rehabilitation can drive recovery for many more than are receiving it.

The research built on the case of a single paralysed patient that Ms Harkemas team reported in 2011. College baseball star Rob Summers had been injured in a hit-and-run accident in 2006, paralysing him below the neck.

In late 2009, Summers received the epidural implant just below the damaged area. The 72-gramme device began emitting electrical current at varying frequencies and intensities, stimulating dense bundles of neurons in the spinal cord. Three days later he stood on his own. In 2010 he took his first tentative steps.

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Light-activated neurons from stem cells restore function to paralyzed muscles

By daniellenierenberg

A new way to artificially control muscles using light, with the potential to restore function to muscles paralyzed by conditions such as motor neuron disease and spinal cord injury, has been developed by scientists at UCL and King's College London.

The technique involves transplanting specially-designed motor neurons created from stem cells into injured nerve branches. These motor neurons are designed to react to pulses of blue light, allowing scientists to fine-tune muscle control by adjusting the intensity, duration and frequency of the light pulses.

In the study, published this week in Science, the team demonstrated the method in mice in which the nerves that supply muscles in the hind legs were injured. They showed that the transplanted stem cell-derived motor neurons grew along the injured nerves to connect successfully with the paralyzed muscles, which could then be controlled by pulses of blue light.

"Following the new procedure, we saw previously paralyzed leg muscles start to function," says Professor Linda Greensmith of the MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases at UCL's Institute of Neurology, who co-led the study. "This strategy has significant advantages over existing techniques that use electricity to stimulate nerves, which can be painful and often results in rapid muscle fatigue. Moreover, if the existing motor neurons are lost due to injury or disease, electrical stimulation of nerves is rendered useless as these too are lost."

Muscles are normally controlled by motor neurons, specialized nerve cells within the brain and spinal cord. These neurons relay signals from the brain to muscles to bring about motor functions such as walking, standing and even breathing. However, motor neurons can become damaged in motor neuron disease or following spinal cord injuries, causing permanent loss of muscle function resulting in paralysis

"This new technique represents a means to restore the function of specific muscles following paralysing neurological injuries or disease," explains Professor Greensmith. "Within the next five years or so, we hope to undertake the steps that are necessary to take this ground-breaking approach into human trials, potentially to develop treatments for patients with motor neuron disease, many of whom eventually lose the ability to breathe, as their diaphragm muscles gradually become paralyzed. We eventually hope to use our method to create a sort of optical pacemaker for the diaphragm to keep these patients breathing."

The light-responsive motor neurons that made the technique possible were created from stem cells by Dr Ivo Lieberam of the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, King's College London.

"We custom-tailored embryonic stem cells so that motor neurons derived from them can function as part of the muscle pacemaker device." says Dr Lieberam, who co-led the study. "First, we equipped the cells with a molecular light sensor. This enables us to control motor neurons with blue light flashes. We then built a survival gene into them, which helps the stem-cell motor neurons to stay alive when they are transplanted inside the injured nerve and allows them to grow to connect to muscle."

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The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Light-activated neurons from stem cells restore function to paralyzed muscles

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Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Therapy Clinical Trial for Multiple Sclerosis Gets Green Light

By LizaAVILA

Dallas, TX (PRWEB) April 03, 2014

Translational Biosciences, a subsidiary of Medistem Panama, has received the green light for a phase I/II clinical trial using human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells (UC-MSC) for multiple sclerosis from the Comit Nacional de Biotica de la Investigacin (CNEI) Institutional Review Board (IRB) in Panama.

According to the US National Multiple Sclerosis Society, in Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an abnormal immune-mediated T cell response attacks the myelin coating around nerve fibers in the central nervous system, as well as the nerve fibers themselves. This causes nerve impulses to slow or even halt, thus producing symptoms of MS that include fatigue; bladder and bowel problems; vision problems; and difficulty walking. The Cleveland Clinic reports that MS affects more than 350,000 people in the United States and 2.5 million worldwide.

Mesenchymal stem cells harvested from donated human umbilical cords after normal, healthy births possess anti-inflammatory and immune modulatory properties that may relieve MS symptoms. Because these cells are immune privileged, the recipients immune system does not reject them. These properties make UC-MSC interesting candidates for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune disorders.

Each patient will receive seven intravenous injections of UC-MSC over the course of 10 days. They will be assessed at 3 months and 12 months primarily for safety and secondarily for indications of efficacy.

The stem cell technology being utilized in this trial was developed by Neil Riordan, PhD, founder of Medistem Panama. The stem cells will be harvested and processed at Medistem Panamas 8000 sq. ft. ISO-9001 certified laboratory in the prestigious City of Knowledge. They will be administered at the Stem Cell Institute in Panama City, Panama.

From his research laboratory in Dallas, Texas, Dr. Riordan commented, Umbilical cord tissue provides an abundant, non-controversial supply of immune modulating mesenchymal stem cells. Preclinical and clinical research has demonstrated the anti-inflammatory and immune modulating effects of these cells. We look forward to the safety and efficacy data that will be generated by this clinical trial; the first in the western hemisphere testing the effects of umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells on patients with multiple sclerosis.

The Principle Investigator is Jorge Paz-Rodriguez, MD. Dr. Paz-Rodriguez also serves as the Medical Director at the Stem Cell Institute.

For detailed information about this clinical trial visit http://www.clinicaltrials.gov . If you are a multiple sclerosis patient between the ages of 18 and 55, you may qualify for this trial. Please email trials (at) translationalbiosciences (dot) com for more information about how to apply.

About Translational Biosciences

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Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Therapy Clinical Trial for Multiple Sclerosis Gets Green Light

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Better way to grow motor neurons from stem cells

By NEVAGiles23

Researchers report they can generate human motor neurons from stem cells much more quickly and efficiently than previous methods allowed. The finding, described in Nature Communications, will aid efforts to model human motor neuron development, and to understand and treat spinal cord injuries and motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The new method involves adding critical signaling molecules to precursor cells a few days earlier than previous methods specified. This increases the proportion of healthy motor neurons derived from stem cells (from 30 to 70 percent) and cuts in half the time required to do so.

"We would argue that whatever happens in the human body is going to be quite efficient, quite rapid," said University of Illinois cell and developmental biology professor Fei Wang, who led the study with visiting scholar Qiuhao Qu and materials science and engineering professor Jianjun Cheng. "Previous approaches took 40 to 50 days, and then the efficiency was very low -- 20 to 30 percent. So it's unlikely that those methods recreate human motor neuron development."

Qu's method produced a much larger population of mature, functional motor neurons in 20 days.

The new approach will allow scientists to induce mature human motor neuron development in cell culture, and to identify the factors that are vital to that process, Wang said.

Stem cells are unique in that they can adopt the shape and function of a variety of cell types. Generating neurons from stem cells (either embryonic stem cells or those "induced" to revert back to an embryo-like state) requires adding signaling molecules to the cells at critical moments in their development.

Wang and other colleagues previously discovered a molecule (called compound C) that converts stem cells into "neural progenitor cells," an early stage in the cells' development into neurons. But further coaxing these cells to become motor neurons presented unusual challenges.

Previous studies added two important signaling molecules at Day 6 (six days after exposure to compound C), but with limited success in generating motor neurons. In the new study, Qu discovered that adding the signaling molecules at Day 3 worked much better: The neural progenitor cells quickly and efficiently differentiated into motor neurons.

This indicates that Day 3 represents a previously unrecognized neural progenitor cell stage, Wang said.

The new approach has immediate applications in the lab. Watching how stem cells (derived from ALS patients' own skin cells, for example) develop into motor neurons will offer new insights into disease processes, and any method that improves the speed and efficiency of generating the motor neurons will aid scientists. The cells can also be used to screen for drugs to treat motor neuron diseases, and may one day be used therapeutically to restore lost function.

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Better way to grow motor neurons from stem cells

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Team finds a better way to grow motor neurons from stem cells

By JoanneRUSSELL25

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

1-Apr-2014

Contact: Diana Yates diya@illinois.edu 217-333-5802 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Researchers report they can generate human motor neurons from stem cells much more quickly and efficiently than previous methods allowed. The finding, described in Nature Communications, will aid efforts to model human motor neuron development, and to understand and treat spinal cord injuries and motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The new method involves adding critical signaling molecules to precursor cells a few days earlier than previous methods specified. This increases the proportion of healthy motor neurons derived from stem cells (from 30 to 70 percent) and cuts in half the time required to do so.

"We would argue that whatever happens in the human body is going to be quite efficient, quite rapid," said University of Illinois cell and developmental biology professor Fei Wang, who led the study with visiting scholar Qiuhao Qu and materials science and engineering professor Jianjun Cheng. "Previous approaches took 40 to 50 days, and then the efficiency was very low 20 to 30 percent. So it's unlikely that those methods recreate human motor neuron development."

Qu's method produced a much larger population of mature, functional motor neurons in 20 days.

The new approach will allow scientists to induce mature human motor neuron development in cell culture, and to identify the factors that are vital to that process, Wang said.

Stem cells are unique in that they can adopt the shape and function of a variety of cell types. Generating neurons from stem cells (either embryonic stem cells or those "induced" to revert back to an embryo-like state) requires adding signaling molecules to the cells at critical moments in their development.

Wang and other colleagues previously discovered a molecule (called compound C) that converts stem cells into "neural progenitor cells," an early stage in the cells' development into neurons. But further coaxing these cells to become motor neurons presented unusual challenges.

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Team finds a better way to grow motor neurons from stem cells

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$2.5 million Defense Department grant funds gene therapy study for Lou Gehrig's disease

By Dr. Matthew Watson

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

1-Apr-2014

Contact: Sandy Van sandy@prpacific.com 808-526-1708 Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

LOS ANGELES (April 1, 2014) The Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute has received a $2.5 million grant from the Department of Defense to conduct animal studies that, if successful, could provide the basis for a clinical trial of a gene therapy product for patients with Lou Gehrig's disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

The incurable disorder attacks muscle-controlling nerve cells motor neurons in the brain, brainstem and spinal cord. As the neurons die, the ability to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. Patients experience muscle weakness that steadily leads to paralysis; the disease usually is fatal within five years of diagnosis. Several genes have been identified in familial forms of ALS, but most cases are caused by a complex combination of unknown genetic and environmental factors, experts believe.

Because ALS affects a higher-than-expected percentage of military veterans, especially those returning from overseas duties, the Defense Department invests $7.5 million annually to search for causes and treatments. The Cedars-Sinai study, led by Clive Svendsen, PhD, professor and director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and Genevive Gowing, PhD, a senior scientist in his laboratory, also will involve a research team at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a Netherlands-based biotechnology company, uniQure, that has extensive experience in human gene therapy research and development.

The research will be conducted in laboratory rats bred to model a genetic form of ALS. If successful, it could have implications for patients with other types of the disease and could translate into a gene therapy clinical trial for this devastating disease.

It centers on a protein, GDNF, that promotes the survival of neurons. In theory, transporting GDNF into the spinal cord could protect neurons and slow disease progression, but attempts so far have failed, largely because the protein does not readily penetrate into the spinal cord. Regenerative Medicine Institute scientists previously showed that spinal transplantation of stem cells that were engineered to produce GDNF increased motor neuron survival, but this had no functional benefit because it did not prevent nerve cell deterioration at a critical site, the "neuromuscular junction" the point where nerve fibers connect with muscle fibers to stimulate muscle action.

Masatoshi Suzuki, PhD, DVM, assistant professor of comparative biosciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who previously worked in the Svendsen Laboratory and remains a close collaborator, recently found that stem cells derived from human bone marrow and engineered to produce GDNF protected nerve cells, improved motor function and increased lifespan when transplanted into muscle groups of a rat model of ALS.

"It seems clear that GDNF has potent neuroprotective effects on motor neuron function when the protein is delivered at the level of the muscle, regardless of the delivery method. We think GDNF will be able to help maintain these connections in patients and thereby keep the motor neuron network functional," Suzuki said.

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$2.5 million Defense Department grant funds gene therapy study for Lou Gehrig's disease

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Ancient Virus DNA Gives Stem Cells the Power to Transform

By Dr. Matthew Watson

Charles Q. Choi

A virus that invaded the genomes of humanity's ancestors millions of years ago now plays a critical role in the embryonic stem cells from which all cells in the human body derive, new research shows.

The discovery sheds light on the role viruses play in human evolution and could help scientists better understand how to use stem cells in advanced therapies or even how to convert normal cells into stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they are capable of becoming any other kind of cell in the body. Scientists around the world hope to use this capability to help patients recover from injury and disease.

Researchers have struggled for decades to figure out how pluripotency works. These new findings reveal that "material from viruses is vital in making human embryonic stem cells what they are," said computational biologist Guillaume Bourque at McGill University in Montreal, a co-author of the study published online March 30 in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

Viral Invasion

To make copies of itself, a virus has to get inside a cell and co-opt its machinery. When one type of virus called a retrovirus does this, it slips its own genes into the DNA of its host cell. The cell is then tricked into assembling new copies of the retrovirus. The most infamous retrovirus is HIV, the virus behind AIDS.

In rare cases, retroviruses infect sperm or egg cells. If that sperm or egg becomes part of a person, their cells will contain retrovirus DNA, and they can pass that DNA on to their descendants. Past research suggests that at least 8 percent of the human genome is composed of these so-called endogenous retroviruses-leftovers from retroviral infections our ancestors had millions of years ago.

Scientists long thought that endogenous retroviruses were junk DNA that didn't do anything within the human genome, said study co-author Huck-Hui Ng, a molecular biologist at the Genome Institute of Singapore.

However, recent studies have revealed that might not be true for one class of endogenous retroviruses known as human endogenous retrovirus subfamily H. HERV-H DNA was surprisingly active in human embryonic stem cells but not in other regular types of human cells.

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Ancient Virus DNA Gives Stem Cells the Power to Transform

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